In Facebook All Business Is Personal

11 03 2009

mb-headshot32Last week our agency received a visit from Lisa Hickey, a self-described “Slightly insane creative thinker and writer. Designer and strategist. Global conversationalist.” She worked at almost every local Boston area advertising agency (with the exception of Mullen) and when she was laid off last year, she re-branded herself as a social media consultant.

Her compelling tale of personal growth via use of Twitter, Facebook, etc. was stirring for all attendees. Given the tragicomic state of the economy today with layoffs everywhere, we can expect other marketers to follow her lead from the unemployment line into social media, and a proliferation of “social media gurus.” By the way, social media guru is a term that I personally loathe because in this day and age we should all be digitally literate, rather than relying on some sort of digital elite (See: Chinese Ch’an master Lin-chi I-hsüan and “Killing the Buddha”). 

Anyway, one thing she said really stuck with me: “Today, people are becoming brands, and brands are becoming people.” It’s true for Lisa, and it’s true for a lot of companies today. Consider how Facebook pages for companies have proliferated, and the very same week of Lisa’s visit Facebook changed those pages to resemble individual profiles. Check out this fantastic whitepaper from The Advance Guard on how those changes can be optimized.

Now, what Facebook doesn’t tell you is that if you wanted to get a customized URL for your company’s fan page that will start at around $100K and involves a media buy. Not a lot of individuals will be in a position to brand their own personal profile at that high price tag.  So, I guess companies are becoming more like individuals, but still get corporate pricing courtesy of Facebook. (Nice. But it’s probably better than spending the money on redecorating a bank’s bathroom.)

So what’s my point? I guess I’m left feeling like Randall Stross, who in his Digital Domain column on Sunday really opened up the can of worms that individuals becoming like companies, and companies becoming like individuals entails. His belief is that it’s ruining our sense of privacy: “When the distinction blurs between one’s few close friends and the many who are not, it seems pointless to distinguish between private and public.” It will be interesting to watch companies open up in the social world and see just how much they’re willing to share. What do you think? Are we over-branding ourselves and destroying what little is left of our private identities in the process?     

 

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3 responses

11 03 2009
Lisa Hickey

Thanks Michael. Your post brings up a really important issue to consider moving forward: this notion of the blurring of our professional and private lives. I don’t think anyone has even begun to think through the implications. The most anyone is saying is “be careful of those drinking pictures you post on Facebook”. Well, sure. But what about when people don’t get hired because their political views are public? Is it okay for a company to not want to work with someone because of their religious beliefs? How much swearing in your personal communications will be tolerated? And, for that matter, *should* it be legal to not hire someone because they posted a drunk picture of themselves? Are you still really an “equal opportunity employer” if you do that? When is it legal to say “we only want employees whose values reflect the values of the brand” and when is it not?

11 03 2009
Charles

Thanks to this Blog from this day forward I dub thee as the “Franchise.”

Sure personal and business lives are melding online on places like Facebook, Blogs, Linked In and Twitter and people are becoming more and more like companies, but maybe that is a good thing.

For years the world and especially America’s “standards” have become lower and lower and people have becoming less and less respectful, especially online.

I say, if Facebook makes you dress up your profile in the same way you’d wear a suit to a new business presentation, then so be it. After all you wouldn’t wear flip flops to a board meeting and you shouldn’t have keg stand photos or explicit comments mixed into something you are using for business or personal gain.

Frankly I’d rather know that the person I’m hiring to make major business, creative and financial decisions for me is not only smart, but is also a good respectful person devoid of real life, online or Facebook “skeletons.”

29 07 2009
Crossing the Facebook Line - Personal to Business | Business Pundit

[…] meantime, I’m sharing my research. Interesting comments (especially in the comments) on how people are becoming more like companies, and companies are becoming more like people. When posed with the question of should you use […]

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